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OU Forward Andrew Sacca (#18) fighting for the puck during the Bobcats' game against Illinois on Oct. 22, 2021

Hockey: Ohio takes its first game against Illinois 5-3

Much like forward Aiden Grieco ran away with the puck toward the end of the first period to score a goal for Ohio, his team also ran away with Friday’s game against Illinois. 

The Bobcats beat the Fighting Illini 5-3 Friday night at Bird Arena, but not without a four-goal lead being cut in half. Ohio led 5-1 with 11 minutes remaining in the game but let Illinois cut its lead to two in the third period. 

Although Ohio (7-3) coach Lionel Mauron never fully doubted his team, he thinks the Bobcats could have done a better job keeping their lead and dominating the Fighting Illini like they have commanded against other teams in the past.  

“I think we kind of left it out there for Illinois to come back and at least get a chance to win,” Mauron said. “I think tomorrow we could do a way better job just taking the game over.”

Ohio showed a strong team effort in the close game. Many different players put up goals and assists, including freshman Jake Burke, who scored Ohio’s first goal of the game and his first goal ever as a Bobcat. The goal was assisted by fellow freshman Spencer Schons, as well as senior Alex Singley. 

Grieco, Sam Turner, Nick Carretta and J.T. Schimizzi also scored goals in Ohio’s win. 

“It's good to see contribution from everybody for sure,” Mauron said. 

Ohio looked somewhat distracted in the third period, which may be one reason why it let Illinois almost catch up to it. Ohio broke out into multiple fights with Illinois toward the end of the game. It seemed like a player was throwing a punch or tackling another player to the ground every other minute. 

In addition, Ohio took three penalties in the third period. A penalty called on Andrew Wells with one minute left in the game helped Illinois to score with five seconds remaining to make it 5-3. Ohio had 19 penalty minutes just in the third period Friday, but in the end, both teams spent an equal amount of time in the penalty box. Ohio and Illinois finished with 29 total penalty minutes each. 

However, the Bobcats finished with a much-needed win regardless. They reclaimed the ice in Bird Arena after losing two straight games to Iowa State the previous weekend. 

Now, Ohio has moved to 7-3 on the season, a similar start to its 2019 season when it finished 24-8-4. It’s a spectacular start for an Ohio team that has grown much over the past two years. 

“I think that the most encouraging part is we changed everything,” Mauron said. “It's a new system, it's new coaches, new leaders and to see that it's really coming together quickly and now we can build off that and keep getting better, it's definitely exciting and proves that we’re doing the right things.”


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